The Candidates Speak

The response to my request for comments on federal candidates’ positions on transit funding and expansion projects (see the previous blog entry) was not encouraging, suggesting that the candidates in Richmond Hill and Thornhill really don’t care about this local issue. Should I receive any late responses, I will update this post with them.

Without editing or commentary added by myself, the responses follow below. Readers may post their own comments.

Here is what I received (listed in alphabetical order by last name) from the Richmond Hill candidates:

Wess Dowsett, NDP:

No response received. 

Dylan Marando, Green Party:

I am proud to say that I use the VIVA and TTC services more or less everyday. Though I am content with the service that I receive, I am always to happy to learn about new proposals aimed to improve public transportation in York Region. In fact, when I first learned about the plan to expand the Toronto subway system to Richmond Hill Centre, I was very excited. Because the creation of more public transportation is something that my fellow Greens and I believe must must be done, the proposal seemed attractive. I was lead to believe that the new project would provide my fellow community members with safe, affordable, reliable, convenient, and ecologically responsible transportation. Furthermore, the proposed expansion seemed to be something that a Green government could support because of our plan to: i) pay up to 75% of the cost of provincial transit projects ii) allocate an additional portion of the federal gasoline tax to municipalities for investment in buses and subway systems iii) give all municipalities 16% of the revenue collected from the GST in order to support investment in green infrastructure and iv) create six Municipal Superfunds of $500 million dollars a year, which will allow the federal government to make strategic investment in growing municipalities such as Richmond Hill.

After doing some research, however, I began to realize that alternative public transportation plans might be a better solution to the serious traffic problems that exist in York Region. Right now, it seems to clear to me that the announcement made by the province to undertake the subway expansion project was hasty. I believe that before making any funding commitments more research needs to be done in order to properly compare the merits of LRT with HRT in York Region, a full environmental assessment must be completed, and more town hall meetings need to be organized in order to give the residents of York Region an opportunity to express their view. In short, though I want to see public transportation improve and I think the announcement of the Ontario government was positive insofar as it provoked popular debate about the need for improved public transportation, I will not support the expansion unless new evidence is presented that clearly shows the HRT is better for Richmond Hill than LRT. The little research that I have done makes me believe that, at this point in time, such evidence does not exist or has not been made public.

If I needed to make a decision today, I would say that we should move forward with a bold LRT strategy. I would use all the money being offered by Ontario government for the current proposal to fulfill this task. Furthermore, I would demand that the federal government match every dollar given to the project by the province. I would use the money that would be saved by using a more cost effective transportation strategy, to improve other areas of public transportation and to make the DDO property- a beautiful piece of green space in Richmond Hill- a community park. 

 Chung Sen Leung, Conservative:

No response received.

Bryon Wilfert, Liberal:

No response received.

Here is what I received (listed in alphabetical order by last name) from the Thornhill candidates:

Susan Kadis, Liberal:

No response received.

Peter Kent, Conservative:

The response from this candidate contained a link to this page which had a link labelled Transportation: Yonge Subway North containing the following text:

Does Thornhill need a dedicated bus line…in the middle of Yonge Street?

Absolutely not!

The plan to expand the existing Viva service to a second phase with bus-only lanes on the stretch of Yonge Street between Steeles Avenue and Highway 7 would be an expensive waste of tax dollars that would have a negative impact on Thornhill’s residential and business communities.

The best way to ease gridlock in our community is to extend the TTC’s Yonge subway line from Finch north to at least the 407.

Although more expensive in the short term, this would be a pragmatic investment in the long-term transportation infrastructure of York Region.

For these reasons and more, I fully support the “Yonge Subway North” initiative championed by Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti and Deputy Mayor Jim Jones.

Norbert Michael Koehl, Green Party:

No response received.

Simon Strelchik, NDP:

No response received.

Comments are closed.